An Opinionated Guide to Conversion
Do you have abandonment issues because your landing page bounce rate is through the roof? Wasting precious time and money on ineffective PPC campaigns? Tired of your boss complaining about how the industry average conversion rate is double what “you” achieved last month? Donʼt know how to ﬁx the problem?
Never fear. With our authoritative, definitive, essential and ultimate collection of 101 Landing Page Optimization tips, weʼll have you testing, reporting, increasing ROI, and unbouncing your online marketing campaigns in no time.
The tips are broken up into 14 chapters:
- Chapter 1: The Fundamentals
- Chapter 2: Trust & Security
- Chapter 3: Landing Page SEO
- Chapter 4: Before Creating a Landing Page You Should KNOW…
- Chapter 5: Before Creating a Landing Page You Should DO…
- Chapter 6: Before you push the “Go Live” Button
- Chapter 7: At Campaign End
- Chapter 8: Testing, Testing, Testing
- Chapter 9: Corporate Tips
- Chapter 10: Forms on Landing Pages
- Chapter 11: Optimizing your Landing Page Call to Action (CTA)
- Chapter 12: What NOT to do – things that can Piss off Your Customers
- Chapter 13: Reporting, Metrics & Analytics for Landing Pages
- Chapter 14: When to Use a Landing Page
You can also download the original 101 Tips as a PDF.
Chapter 1: The Fundamentals
Sticking to the fundamentals can take you from having a terrible landing page to having one that people ﬁnd hard to poke holes in. Apply them vigorously as you get started, then enhance your pages by digging into the areas we discuss later on.
- Send people to a relevant and targeted page
Your homepage is a mish-mash of goal oriented communication – and usually for good reason. With that in mind, resist the urge to send people there as itʼs better targeted at the curious explorer type rather than the person clicking through from a banner or AdWords link. Think one goal, one message, one action. And hence one page – generally a new one – a landing page.
- Provide a consistent experience
From ad through landing page and onto the destination site, design, messaging and tone should be consistent with the expectations your user had at the time they clicked the link/banner. Your upstream ad is the source, and using a river analogy, you should be drinking from the same stream at the end of the journey as you were at the start.
- “Donʼt Bore Us… Get to the Chorus” (Roxette)
The title of this tip comes from the Greatest Hits album by Swedish pop duo Roxette. As one of the masters of bubblegum pop, they knew how to highlight the most important element of each song – the chorus.
No one likes a babbler, and we only put up with it for the most part because itʼs our friend thatʼs chewing on our ear.
When dealing with online prospects, you need to get right to the point with no muss and no fuss.
The astute among you will recognize that in providing an analogy prior to my point, I am essentially countering my own argument. But on closer examination, what this shows is that sometimes you have to provide some editorial or instructional introduction to your subject.
If this is the case, like Roxette, just make sure the juicy bits stand out signiﬁcantly.
- Focus the visitors attention with a clear and concise headline
Imagine yourself walking in a busy downtown street. You glance at the newspaper vending machine to see a big black headline. If it captures your attention, you might stop, bend over and read it for a while. If itʼs really good, you might ﬁsh a dollar out of your pocket and actually pay for it.
Conversely, if itʼs just a big page of small type with no visible purpose, you wouldn’t even break your stride.
Make the headline clear, easily noticeable, and in a relevant position on the page.
- User and traffic segmentation
If you have multiple user types, create a landing page for each segment and drive trafﬁc via separate sources. This will enable you to measure your most effective market segmentation. If your landing page has extended logic or geo-targeting capabilities you may be able to create a single page with changing content based on visitor. If this is the case, ensure your tracking can handle these complexities.
- Remove the clutter
Remember that ad campaign that had a single button proclaiming “Don’t click me”? Nobody could resist that. Not only was it tempting, but it didn’t have any competing information. As you create your landing page, step back from time to time, look at it from a distance and see how many things are vying for your attention.
Reﬁne your landing page until the answer is 1.
Observe – Remove – Repeat
- Remove the navigation
Similarly, donʼt give people a full-scale website experience. You often paid to get them there, so keep ‘em focused and on track. If they really want to know your favorite color or look you up on Google maps, they can go to your website another time. Each navigation option you provide dilutes their attention.
- Keep reading to a minimum
Ensure visitors get a chance to read your most important copy right off the bat. If it’s buried amongst 5 paragraphs of text, itʼll be missed.
An exception to this rule would be a page designed to provide a high level of detail (such as a Book page on Amazon), but this is usually best utilized as the deep-linked “product detail” page on the target website and not on a landing page.
- Above the fold
As much as this statement ﬁlls me with chagrin and isn’t relevant for certain types of web page, it still holds true for the landing page.
Your primary messaging and call to action must be above the fold (the bottom of the screen for the average browser resolution of your target market).
Does it really matter anymore?
Despite the existence of very successful long pages such as a product detail page on Amazon.com, you still need to ensure that the CTA is present above the fold (and repeated at regular intervals further down the page). This allows people to read on being comfortable that they know what to do when the urge to buy arrives. Some examples of long pages are:
- Amazon – with some of the most important information (user reviews) 2-5 screens down the page people have developed an understanding that not all of the gold is buried close to the surface.
- MySpace – when millions of today’s youth started creating their own web pages using MySpace, they learned to value this long form approach.
- The Wheel Mouse – providing a big helping hand along the way was the introduction of an improved interaction mechanism. The scroll wheel on the PC mouse essentially removed the need to use scrollbars. Thankfully Apple have since conceded to this superior rarity in interaction design and included it on their mice too.
Repeating your CTA on long pages
If you are obligated to produce a long landing page (perhaps as one of the standard long-form lead capture sites), try to repeat your core message and/or CTA at comfortable intervals throughout. This helps to reinforce your purpose. Note also that different people react to different content, so they may be 2/3 of the way through before they believe what you are saying. If there is a button right there, you may ﬁnd them more likely to convert when this matches their time of emotional connection to your message.
Congruence refers to the concept of ensuring that every element on your landing page refers to, or supports, your core value proposition. Look over your design and copy, if itʼs not directly supporting your goals ditch it or re-write/re-design it.
- Experiment with different media types
Video has become so prevalent in the broadband world that itʼs no longer a barrier (a few years ago, and in a minority of markets today, the delay involved in loading video makes it an impediment). Visitors are likely to spend more time on your site engaged in passive activities such as watching a video as itʼs easier than reading. This extra time can be the difference between someone “hearing” your message and not. With everything, quality is king here, say something important and say it well. If you canʼt afford to build something with a high production value, then aim for a screencast – an on-screen walkthrough of your product or concept.
These are intended and expected to be lo-ﬁ and this quality can enhance the realism and authenticity of you and your approach – where the message now resides in what you say and what you show, rather than in the production value of the video.
- Enable sharing on viral landing pages
If your goal is to create buzz with a landing page – such as a ﬂash game or humor piece, ensure that it is easily sharable with the common social networks.
The most obvious choices for social media buzz creation are Twitter and Facebook. They can help to spread your message quickly and in an exponential fashion if what you are doing is tweet or like worthy.
The key to success lies in the fact that it’s not 100% altruistic – sharing via Twitter or Facebook adds the content into your own personal timeline extending your online persona by showing content that represents your personality and beliefs.
It’s reminiscent of the psychology surrounding ones CD, vinyl or book collection, where you gain pleasure from the reaction of others to your taste.
- Provide extra value on your conﬁrmation or thank you page
If you are asking your visitors for personal data on your landing page (such as an email address for lead capture), take it one step further and give them a bonus on the thank you page. This could just be something useful such as a link to related content on your site, or it could be an extra free report. Giving something away for free (or for an email address) is good. Surprising someone and giving them a bonus is great.
Chapter 2: Trust & Security
With the proliferation of spam, pyramid and get-rich-quick schemes found in online marketing, becoming a leader with regard to trust can give your pages an instant leg up. The first key to success here is simply to care. Donʼt pay lip service to this area as itʼs more important to people than you may think.
- Show a phone number
By having a phone number present, it tells people you are legitimate and that there are real people at the end of the line. It can also be a good fallback for
people who aren’t comfortable with online transactions, but who like your offer.
- Remove barriers to valuable content
If you are giving something away for free, but asking for personal details in exchange, offer something that really is for free in advance, such as a small portion of the materials you are providing (a chapter 1 preview etc.). This piques interest and lets people know you are not going to send them something worthless in exchange for their personal information. People like the try-before-you-buy option. A real world example would be the unwritten rule that it’s OK to eat a grape in the supermarket. Really this is theft, but everyone likes to do it to check that the goods are in fact good. You might be thinking, yeah but if the grapes are bad, people will find out and not buy them. Exactly! If you have a great product you shouldn’t be scared to share a little up front.
- Brand consistency
If your banner, landing page and destination site donʼt feel part of the same family you will lose business. The landing page falls right in the middle of the acquisition process and should extend the minimal capabilities of banners/AdWords into a real sense of brand values – while not providing the complete experience of the destination (or mothership) website.
Extending the brand messaging
Ensure that your visual design is the same from banner to landing page. Donʼt change color palette and typography from one to the other. Repeat the original core message on the landing page for instant recognition and increased conﬁdence that you are in the right place.
- Refrain from using gimmicky sales tactics
The web is littered with so much crap that waders should be the preferred footwear of today’s surfer. No matter how much you feel the need to use the BUY NOW, BEST DEAL EVER type guff that proﬂigates the sad lower end of our industry, just remember one thing… authenticity rules. People are starting to learn to see through the hype and understand when you are telling the truth.
Do you really need advice about this? Ok, here goes. If you use them, you should hang your head in shame and go wait in line for when your entire customer base leaves you for a company with more integrity. Sure, you may notice a slight improvement in conversion in the short term, but if youʼre attracting the types of customer that click on popups either because they are suckers or simply to get the ad out of the way, then they will exhibit the same ADD and bad judgement when they get through to your site.
“Are you sure you want to leave this page?” Press OK to leave, and Cancel to stay. Or is it OK to stay and Cancel to leave?
“How about now?”
- Use veriﬁable facts
In an age of comparison shopping and online research, bold claims about your product or service may elicit a modicum of trepidation on the part of the consumer). If what you are promising isnʼt really true donʼt say it, because you will get caught out. Perhaps by only a few individuals, but if they turn out to be social connectors, you could quickly ﬁnd yourself plastered all over the blogosphere with devastating consequences.
If you have afﬁliations with well known people or businesses, use their endorsements to build credibility. Iʼm pretty sure that Proactiv isnʼt some miracle cure for acne, but Iʼm willing to suspend that doubt purely because the celebrities promoting it are placing their reputation on the line.
- Donʼt ask for information you don’t really need
Sure, there are 5 people in your ofﬁce beating down your door asking for an extra phone number or age or bra size, but if itʼs not critical to the information or product being requested on your landing page, then donʼt risk scaring people away. Chances are that the extra information will be scantily used anyway.
- Terms and Conditions in Laymanʼs Terms
If you need to have a terms and conditions page or section, try to put the important stuff in laymanʼs terms. Better yet, make it entertaining, by separating it into two segments – t&c for lawyers, and t&c for the rest of us.
Testimonials work to create trust on your landing pages. But resist the urge to use false or made up ones. If you invent over enthusiastic statements by caricatures of stereotypical personas, and position them with images grabbed from stock photo sites you will look disingenuous.
Authentic Business Practices Produce Authentic Testimonials
If you have a great product or service and you treat your customers well, testimonials will either come to you or you’ll have established the relationships where you can go and ask for them.
Wait for that great personal story that could be the tipping point in making people believe your landing page message, something that shows you have affected someone’s life or business.
If you don’t have one yet, increase the feedback mechanisms on your website to allow your customers to provide the information you need.
Perform A/B Testing on Your Landing Page
To measure the effect testimonials have on your landing page conversion rate, consider running an A/B split test. You could run tests to compare the following things:
- With and without testimonials
- With and without photos
- With short or full quotes
- With few or many testimonials
If you ﬁnd that less testimonials work better, you could then try using only 1, but test each testimonial in turn to see which people respond best to.
- Certiﬁcation and brand logos
This is a classic technique to garner trust. If you have an association with a company such as Verisign, wear it proudly on your sleeve. However, itʼs important to use relevant and well known brands in your alignment strategy. Saying you are part of the Viagra sellers alliance probably wonʼt help you convert women into paying customers for a trek in the Andes.
- Professional design
Often, the more expensive you look, the more believable your story will appear. In this case money talks. You still need the right call to action and
landing page copy, but as single folks know, a beautiful apartment with picture perfect interior design and seductive Feng Shui can make the difference between second base and a home run.
- Donʼt exaggerate!
Following on from the last point, if you oversell yourself in the living room, you may very well attract your guest into the bedroom, only to ﬁnd that they leave at the sight of the real thing.
Provide links to a privacy statement and/or terms and conditions to quell fears of email abuse. A good technique is to write “Weʼll never sell your email address” in close proximity to your lead gen form.
Partners drive trafﬁc to your business, often to a landing page. Using a co-branded landing page can enhance the ad message momentum and improve your conversion rate.
To clarify, what this does is provide the customer with the conﬁdence that their intended goal is being maintained. For example, if an affiliate is be offering a discount coupon (something they have arranged with you so that they can attract customers based on this special deal), the customer needs to know that when they click from the initiating site over to your landing page, the offer hasn’t been “digitally disregarded”.
Maintain Ad Message Momentum
The best way to maintain momentum is:
- Include the partner/affiliate logo on the landing page alongside your own, showing that you have an established relationship.
- Repeat the offer. Show that clicking through to your landing page didn’t cause the promise to be forgotten.
Chapter 3: Landing Page SEO
For short term marketing campaigns, SEO isnʼt a factor, but for longer terms projects, especially lead-generation or ebook sales, itʼs a critical aspect of your business model.
- Your website has more landing pages than you think
Whether you think you’ve ever created a landing page before, you need to recognize that landing pages are not just standalone campaign-based entities.
As the search economy grows, every deep-linked product detail page on your site is essentially a landing page.
With this in mind, take a look over your site and re-apply the tips in this eBook to those pages to help improve your conversions and revenue from your long tail of content.
- Care about SEO
For pages that will be live for any extended period of time, ensure the content is optimized for maximum value. What does that mean? Well, most importantly it means simply giving a s**t. Thatʼs the tip here. Realize the importance of SEO. Read on for more speciﬁc actions to take.
- Text headlines
Consider the impact of using a text headline for your primary messaging/statement instead of having it inside an image. Placing it into an H1 could give you some bonus points. Yes, you might sacriﬁce visual quality, but there are ways around that with ﬂash replacement etc. and if the goal of your page is to attract organic traffic you need to be willing to make some trade offs. Pick your priority and make your decision.
- Setting expectations
It’s important to recognize that a single page that doesn’t sit within an architecture of internal linking is going to struggle a bit when it comes to ranking well. Focus on long tail terms for your content.
- Pure optimized HTML
Single landing pages are good candidates for producing clean focused content as you don’t have to include the bloated common structural elements of a full website.
- Provide a valuable resource to gain links
Most evergreen landing pages (ones that are in place for the long haul – year round as opposed to seasonal) exist for the purpose of lead gen. If you give away something (a whitepaper or eBook) that contains excellent content you are more likely to attract inbound links.
- Reduced PPC costs
The closer the content on your landing page can match the copy and link title from your AdWords campaigns, the more relevancy (and Quality Score) Google attributes to your intentions which results in a lower cost for your chosen PPC keywords.
Chapter 4: Before Creating a Landing Page you should KNOW…
For architects or designers and developers responsible for creating a landing page, the following list of information will help facilitate the creation of a page that addresses genuine needs. A marketing or campaign manager should be providing this type of information.
- Business Objectives
The business objective of the campaign and in particular the page. What problem are you trying to solve?
- Know Your Audience
Understand the goals and motivations of the users who will be arriving at your landing page. What are the main questions that a potential visitor will have? Knowing this will allow you to design an experience that answers these questions in priority sequence on the page.
- Visitor Action
The desired action of the visitor (primary CTA). Sounds simple, but if you don’t have a very specific idea in mind, your page can lose focus.
- Entry Points
Take note of all campaign entry points (email, organic, PPC, social media) and any existing collateral materials to ensure you maintain a consistent brand experience and design. If your landing page doesnʼt match the aesthetic of the banner ad then people will often rightfully assume they are in the wrong place and leave.
- Technical limitations of your target audience
Are they iPhone users? Are they business people with laptops that still view everything on 1024×780? Or are they designers with big 24” iMacs?
- Creative brief
Ideally there will be a well deﬁned concept that ties business and user goals together into a simple and implementable idea. This will help you to design something that doesnʼt stray from the core goals of the campaign. If you are a small business or entrepreneur then this might seem like a bit of a luxury (or an extreme waste of time). If you’ve never used a brief before, try searching for some examples or templates – it can be really useful to go through the process of creating a simple half page brief just to get the idea down on paper before you commit it to digital realm.
Chapter 5: Before Designing a Landing Page you should DO…
Preparation is always nice but not always practical. Here are a few tips that can ease your planning process and ensure you start heading down a path of recursive good behavior.
- Check domain name availability
Did you remember to buy the domain for the campaign? This will normally have been checked and purchased by someone in IT, but itʼs a good idea to verify it. Strongly branded domain names can place a heavy inﬂuence on design direction, and having to patch something up at the last minute because someone forgot to get the domain, will affect your time to market (which can be critical for event based marketing).
- DONʼT repeat errors of the past
Sounds simple, but unless you make the effort to track and record problems in old campaigns you will never learn from them. Put a big poster on the wall with the Top 10 things to avoid doing.
- DO repeat your successes
Likewise, if something has worked in the past, repeat it in your new campaigns. This can become your own personal best practices list.
- Competitive analysis
Check out what your competitors are doing. This can serve 2 purposes; if you need inspiration it can give you some ideas, or if you are trying to innovate and differentiate, you will be in a position to zag away from the competition.
Chapter 6: Before you push the “Go Live” Button
Itʼs tempting to be impatient and “get it out the door” as soon as you can, but it pays to take a few deep breaths and do some ﬁnal checks and balances before you publish your landing pages.
- Have a checklist
This is a tip in itself, and the next few items will explain some of the tasks you should perform as part of this checklist. If you can establish a checklist and incorporate it into your process, you will soon start to develop good habits that produce better, more effective landing pages.
- The 5-second rule
Do some simple usability and page goal testing using people in your ofﬁce (or friends & family). A good rule of thumb is to follow the 5-second rule. Sit your subject in front of a computer screen and show them the page for 5 seconds. Then hide it and ask them what the purpose of the page was. If they are unclear, you may need to re-address the communication of the primary message and call to action. You can also crowdsource this activity through a service like Five Second Test.
- Many sets of eyes
Print your landing page out and pin it to the wall so that people can see it. This will open up discussion about your design. Often, an objective set of eyeballs will spot simple things that can help reﬁne the page before you push it live. This is also a good way to increase collaboration and youʼll be surprised at some of the skills or insights your co-workers can provide.
Some companies have this built into their process, others are too small and rely on the owner/creator to do everything. Even in large companies, small marketing campaigns often get the short end of the stick and donʼt have a dedicated person for quality assurance. To be viewed as professional you cannot afford to have any typos or errors on your landing pages. With such a short time to convince a visitor that you have something of value, even minor slip-ups can cost you a sale. Make sure it looks good in the major web browsers your target market uses. Fortunately, most landing pages are relatively simple, but donʼt forget to check.
Chapter 7: At Campaign End
Diligent attention to the success or failure of your campaigns will help you learn and grow as an internet marketer. Try to study what youʼve done after itʼs ﬁnished.
After each landing page campaign, hold a postmortem session to collectively analyze and agree on what worked and what didnʼt. This can then be fed back into your best practices lists.
- Evergreen campaigns
If you donʼt need to take it down, donʼt. You can gain trickle trafﬁc and SEO value by leaving a page in place, even if you are not directly sending trafﬁc to it. And if you decide to reactivate the campaign in the future, having a live page that Google has been aware of for 6-12 months is a major beneﬁt. If the campaign was time sensitive, consider a quick change to make it more generic so that you can leave it up.
Chapter 8: Testing, Testing, Testing
Many a marketing department relies solely on gut instinct and personal opinion. Be prepared to throw that out the window and start achieving real insight into what works and what doesnʼt.
- A/B Test to validate your decisions
This allows you to perform simple comparative campaign studies, allowing you to produce alternate designs and messaging and see which performs the best. Having a testing infrastructure in place is critical to being able to measure your success.
- Test the primary graphical image(s) or photography
Most campaigns are intended for a speciﬁc segment or user demographic. As such, itʼs a good idea to try different images that provide varied emotional responses. The smiling happy old ﬂy-ﬁsherman may well evoke a happy retirement, but some people can be thrown off by generic stock imagery.
- Primary message
Write multiple variations on your main message and run tests on each. Also try varying the size and color of the text.
- Call to action
We go into more depth regarding CTAs later, but for testing purposes, youʼll want to try varying the message in your main CTA. Ensure itʼs an accurate description of what the user will get when they act on it to avoid trust and annoyance issues.
- Button color
There are many viewpoints out there regarding button color. Some say that red is the best color to use as it evokes such strong emotional reactions, however itʼs also a negative “stop” type color, so be sure to test it with others like green for “go” and blue as a familiar web standard link/action color. Wider Funnel suggest trying a big orange button.
- Form threshold
For lead capture and other form usage, you will want to minimize the amount of ﬁelds that visitors are required to complete. However, if you have a particularly strong need for data, try running an A/B/C/D/E test with varying amounts of information gathering. This way you can make an informed decision about what abandonment rate is acceptable when weighed against the extra data produced.
- Reﬁne constantly
If you have new ideas, test them, immediately! The more information you glean the better your landing pages will become. Donʼt stop at the ﬁrst A/B test. Brainstorm areas of the page that should be tested and throw up 2,3,4 or 5 different versions.
- Multivariate testing (MVT)
A/Bʼs big brother is a much more complicated affair that requires you to send a lot more traffic before you can get statistically accurate results (due to the large number of page combinations an MVT test generates). It involves testing for changes in multiple variables at one time with a focus on scientiﬁc interpretation of results. For more detailed information, Iʼd recommend a book by Tim Ash – “Landing Page Optimization” that does a great – albeit very technical – job of explaining the purpose and use of multivariate testing.
Chapter 9: Corporate Tips
How to get ahead as an internet marketer.
- Become the landing page expert in your company
If you follow the guidelines presented in this list and can report accurately on your results, you will be seen as the person to go to for improved marketing ROI.
- Donʼt be smug
Assuming that you know everything and that your landing pages are infallible is naive. A humble approach to testing, validation and experimentation is the best way to become a better practitioner. The fact that we are listing 101 tips in here illustrates the complexities involved in such a seemingly simple concept.
Chapter 10: Forms on Landing Pages
Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a web visitor more than the dreaded form. Follow these simple landing page form tips to reduce your bounce rate.
- Remove unnecessary ﬁelds
Every Jack and Jill in your company will want some extra data from your lead capture or subscription forms. Itʼs your job as chief landing page optimizing ofﬁcer to cut this down to a minimum. The previously mentioned form threshold level can be more easily determined through testing and veriﬁcation, allowing you to play a savvy political game while keeping your visitors happier. And really, who needs to know a visitors fax number these days?
- Use directional cues to draw attention to the form
If you primary goal is to have someone complete a form, then visually direct them to it so they know what they are supposed to do. Read this post on designing for conversion for an in-depth look at the use of directional cues.
Donʼt crowd your form, make it inviting, clean and simple by surrounding it with a decent margin of clear space.
- Use oversized buttons
We’re not trying to create a snotty online banking application, it’s a one shot deal (which may still be to do with banking). As such, donʼt be afraid to design big shiny buttons that really stand out. They donʼt need to be grey or be the same height as a standard text ﬁeld. Go big to stop your visitors going home.
- Make form labels and ﬁeld text easy to read
Use a large enough font that anyone can read it easily. Web 2.0 design standards are moving in the direction of form ﬁelds and text that are 2x-3x the previous norm, so follow suit and make your forms feel friendlier and happier.
- Why should I ﬁll out the form?
Make the beneﬁts and reward very clear and position them in context with the form so that people are constantly reminded why they are bothering.
Chapter 11: Optimizing your Landing Page Call to Action (CTA)
If your visitors donʼt know what to do, then you are up poop creek without a paddle, a boat or any moist towelettes. Your call to action, or CTA, is the primary conversion goal of a visitor to your landing page. Examples of common actions that need to be called out are: purchasing a product, subscribing to a newsletter, calling you on the phone, downloading an ebook or whitepaper, watching a demo or requesting information.
- Make your CTA(s) clear and unambiguous
If you are offering a free ebook then make the button say “Get your free ebook”, and not “go”, “submit” or “subscribe”.
- The bait and switch
Related to the previous tip, donʼt promise one thing and then deliver something else, or even worse nothing at all. To follow the same example, if you are giving
away an ebook, and your CTA says “Get your free ebook”, donʼt provide a paypal form on the next screen asking for $2.95 for the product you said would be free, or merely say “thanks for registering” without a link to the product you are offering. Yes, you will have gained a lead, but the customer is now worthless, and will tell others about your unscrupulous tactics.
- Amazing! Awesome! Kick-Ass!!!!
Resist the temptation to include bloated adjectives. Such claims are likely to make people think you are overselling and trying too hard.
- Breathing room
Allow the CTA room to breath visually. Expansive use of whitespace will allow your button or statement to stand out on the page. Color choice is important here also; create a high contrast between the CTA and surrounding elements to assert it’s dominance.
- Keep it where it can be seen
Donʼt let it fall below the fold, and if you have a long page, repeat the call to action at the bottom of the page or once in every page length to remind the user and provide them with a mechanism to act, regardless of where they are.
- Personalize/localize the call to action
For example, if the desired action is for the customer to call a phone number, donʼt make them work. Provide a toll free number, or geo-targeted local codes as required.
- Utilize a safety net
Not all customers are ready to engage right away and might need some supporting information to ease their worries or answer their questions. If you are asking someone to buy something, a sensible secondary CTA would be do download a product brochure. This keeps them in your realm of inﬂuence (as opposed to leaving to do research elsewhere) and builds conﬁdence. Ensure that the safety net CTA doesnʼt compete in size and visual dominance – often a simple text link is adequate, beneath the main big action button. If you are asking someone to purchase online, offering a phone number for phone orders can make a potential customer more likely to convert if thatʼs their preferred contact method.
Carry your primary call to action throughout the entire acquisition and conversion experience, from upstream ad (PPC, email, banner, social media link) through your landing page and on to the ﬁnal destination page (if there is one).
- Reduce the available options
If you have only one message and action, you should be able to look at the page and have your eye immediately drawn to the action area. Donʼt place extraneous offers or navigation on the page that could draw the user into doing something else. In the case where you have several choices (such as 4 cable TV package options), there is still a single goal (choose a package), so ensure that each action area is consistent and they are grouped in a region that can be considered the action area.
- Be audience appropriate
If you are selling spa getaways, then donʼt be aggressive with your tone and language. If youʼre offering funeral services, donʼt use !!!!!! at the end of the call to action.
Chapter 12: What NOT to do – things that can offend your customers
Weʼve all had horrible online experiences. Follow these tips to avoid re-creating them.
- Thatʼs way too much for me to read!
To paraphrase Steve Krug (author of “Donʼt Make Me Think”), cut your copy in half and then throw away half of whatʼs left.
- Donʼt lie to your customers
To be an effective marketer you simply must deliver on your promises. Treat people well and theyʼll tell their friends.
- Donʼt include a form if you donʼt need it
If you can honestly get away without a form, donʼt be greedy and throw one in there because it would be nice to be able to capture some data, keep it out and reap the beneﬁts of a slimmed down landing page. If you are trying to extend your brand exposure and expertise with a free white paper, consider giving it away without the email capture – but make sure each page is branded with your identity and contact information. If itʼs worth itʼs salt people will share it and youʼll get more visitors as a result. Youʼll also get plenty of karma points.
- Pop off!
I said this earlier and Iʼll repeat it here. NO POPUPS.
- Turn down the music
If your page requires sound or music to function; for example, a viral ﬂash campaign or video-centric page, then ensure that you provide the facility to control the volume, including a prominent mute button. If someone is viewing your page during a quiet time or at the ofﬁce, sudden sounds can be a sureﬁre way to drive them to the close button.
- Donʼt do lead-gen with the intention to spam
Keep your communication with your leads on topic. If they are completing a form to get your whitepaper on gardening, don’t start sending them emails about motorbikes. Read “Permission Marketing” by Seth Godin for more good behavior ideas.
- Donʼt use photos you found on the internet
Especially the one that appears ﬁrst in a search of Google images. Youʼll appear generic and untrustworthy.
Donʼt make assumptions about your visitors knowledge. Put yourself in their shoes and anticipate their questions. Then make sure you answer them on the page. This will help prevent people going elsewhere to ﬁnd their answers and potentially ﬁnding a better offer.
If someone is registering with you for a newsletter or ongoing communication, make it clear that they will be able to easily opt-out at any time. Saying this up front is often the tipping point between someone saying “ok, sure” and “no way”.
Chapter 13: Reporting, Metrics & Analytics for Landing Pages
Marketing campaigns without metrics and reporting and like a runaway train. Yes, they make you more accountable, but if youʼre good at what you do – or at least desire to become better, accountability can make you a rock star. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Use analytics
If you donʼt have internal analytics software (Site Catalyst etc.), you can get set up quickly and for free by using Google Analytics, or several inexpensive paid options such as KISSMetrics.com, GetClicky.com or HaveAMint.com (works great on an iPhone). By adding simple code snippets to your landing pages youʼll be tracking results immediately and can prove/disprove theories (sorry boss, making the logo bigger killed our conversion rate) and start to produce professional reports.
- Basic metrics
You should ensure you are recording the fundamental performance metrics for each campaign. These are campaign speciﬁc, but can include: conversion rate (broad term), bounce/abandonment rate, form completion rate. Store these results so that you have a basis for showing how your reﬁnement process (via A/B testing) is working, and to allow comparative reporting against previous campaigns that had the same goals.
- Getting granular
Using an analytics or campaign reporting programs can help you determine whether different time/day segments are more successful than others. If you have an increased conversion rate on friday nights and weekends, and little to no success during midweek, you can either focus your efforts purely on the best days, or start A/B testing different messaging on the lower days to see if an altered communication strategy will lift the metrics at those times. You will undoubtedly learn something about your user behavior by dong this.
- Be transparent at all times
Compile frequent and regular reports and make them accessible to as many people as your internal bureaucracy will allow. Success can inspire an entire team/company, and failure can elicit useful feedback from people able to spot issues you might have become blind to.
- Beware the industry average
Industry averages are often bandied around to show comparative results for your particular vertical. While somewhat skewed by virtue of the fact that their campaign/goals/timing/budget/product is different to yours, they can play an important role in showing where you stand in the competitive landscape. Particularly if you are above average. In other words, use with discretion.
- Customer feedback
If you are gathering consumer feedback via a landing page, collating this serves 2 purposes. Firstly, it gives you great presentation materials for internal meetings. Secondly, you can start to use them on your next campaign as testimonials to boost credibility and trust. Just remember to ask permission before quoting somebody publicly.
- Eye tracking
If you have some budget available, eye tracking reports can give you valuable insight into where people are looking and help you increase the positioning of key elements.
- Heat maps
Similar to eye tracking, there is software available (like CrazyEgg.com) that can show heat map overlays showing where people are clicking most. Use this information to manipulate and test copy in the most popular areas to see if you can increase conversions.
- Assumed attention hotspots
Other systems can produce a virtual heat map based on assumed attention areas based on graphical contrast and basic design patterns (like Attention Wizard). All of these tools can add to your understanding of landing page behavior.
Chapter 14: When to Use a Landing Page
You probably donʼt have the time, money or resources to use a landing page for every little brain fart or campaign initiative that you come up with, so here are our recommendations for when they are a relevant option.
- For every campaign
Ok, so we just said you probably canʼt do this, but the truth is you should at least try to use them all the time. If youʼve begun to grasp the fundamental purpose of the landing page youʼll know that sending visitors to non campaign speciﬁc pages such as your homepage is just wasting money. The best way to ensure that you can do it for every campaign? Develop a painless process and some standard templates for the types of campaign you do and be ruthless about reporting on your success. If you can demonstrate that you can A – build them quickly and B – achieve improved ROI via reporting and testing, youʼre well on your way to convincing any smart business person.
- Multiple inbound trafﬁc sources
If you are expecting trafﬁc from multiple sources (AdWords, banners, afﬁliates, organic search, Google images), you may want to create separate landing pages for each source to simplify the funnel and enable more distinct testing.
- Special promotions
These typically come in at the last minute and if your website isnʼt architected to allow for random or short-term event based promotions, you’ll need somewhere to communicate your campaigns. Standalone landing pages are great for this as they can exist outside of your existing infrastructure.
- The dreaded deploy schedule
Sometimes you just need to get a web page up and live. But you work for a big company that has a rigid deployment schedule. Sometimes they have the ﬂexibility to break the rules, but not always. Well itʼs Easter, you have to get a critical message out regarding a promotion youʼre running, and you forgot to update the promotions page on the website. What to do? Build a simple, focussed landing page and ftp the whole shebang to a new folder on the web server, bypassing IT (theyʼll forgive you when you show the conversion report) and getting the job done. Not ideal, but sometimes you have to think on your feet.
- When your Marketing Manager or CEO has one of his/her “brainwaves”
Weʼve all been there. Some creative type (I canʼt be too harsh here as Iʼm one myself) comes up with a great idea that must be dealt with immediately. The simplest way to do this is in a disconnected landing page that can break code conventions, brand guidelines and can be efﬁciently measured to provide instant feedback on itʼs ridiculousness. Or maybe perhaps itʼll work like a charm in which case youʼre going to be re-designing the whole site according to the new direction.
Don’t be complacent. Remember that there’s always another percentage point of conversion waiting around the corner to be squeezed out of your customers. If you’re lacking inspiration, try rating your landing page with the Conversion Scorecard to give you a to do list of things to optimize.